02 Sep Study Links Antibiotics Use and Increased Subsequent Risk of Colorectal Cancer
MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Sophia Harlid, Ph.D.
Associate Professor/Docent in Molecular Epidemiology
Department of Radiation Sciences
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study?
Response: Antibiotics has previously been associated with in increased risk of colorectal cancer, with this study we were able to use comprehensive registry data to further break down and validate this relationship.
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings? Were any antibiotics in particular implicated?
Response: Our main finding was an increased risk of proximal (right sided) colon cancer of about 17%, in individuals who had taken antibiotics for at least 6 months during the studied time period. However, the risk increased with the amount of antibiotics and even small amounts (similar to a single prescription) were associated with a risk increase. Interestingly the risk seemed confined to the proximal colon and for the rectum there was a reduced risk associated with antibiotics use among women, but not among men. One possible explanation for the inverse association in the rectum could be that antibiotics helps reduce pathogenic bacteria in the area after STDs.
Regarding particular antibiotics, we found a general association for most types regardless of which bacteria they target. Most prominent associations in our study was seen for Quinolones, sulfonamides / trimethoprims, whereas other studies have found stronger associations with Penicillin.
MedicalResearch.com: What should readers take away from your report?
Response: Our study provides an additional reason to restrict the use of antibiotics when possible, the main reason for this remains the risk of introducing bacterial resistance. However, I see no need for the individual to refrain from taking antibiotics if needed.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this work?
Response: Several of our findings, such as the inverse association between antibiotics and rectal cancer risk in women and the associations with specific antibiotic classes need to be confirmed in additional studies. There is also a need to further investigate the possibility of a causal link between antibiotics use and colon cancer risk, but this will require studies of a different design as well as a better understanding of the interplay between microbes and host.
MedicalResearch.com: Is there anything else you would like to add?
Response: This study supports the growing evidence that antibiotics can effect colon cancer risk. Even though the individual risk-increase is small, it brings us a little bit closer to understanding the relationship between the bacteria in our intestines and their impact on our health
Sai San Moon Lu, Zahraa Mohammed, Christel Häggström, Robin Myte, Elisabeth Lindquist, Åsa Gylfe, Bethany Van Guelpen, Sophia Harlid. Antibiotics Use and Subsequent Risk of Colorectal Cancer: A Swedish Nationwide Population-Based Study. JNCI: Journal of the National Cancer Institute, 2021; DOI: 1093/jnci/djab125
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